Saudi Arabia responds to a statement by an American delegation that cut short its visit to the Kingdom after asking a rabbi to take off the kippah

(CNN)– On Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, issued a statement in response to the announcement by the US Committee for Religious Freedom Worldwide, on Monday, that its delegation had cut off its official visit to Saudi Arabia after Saudi officials asked the head of the committee to remove the Jewish head covering (the kippah).

The American committee’s statement said that the delegation “was making an official visit to the historic city of Diriyah, a site that UNESCO has included in the World Heritage List, when Saudi officials asked the head of the committee, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, to take off the kippah.”

The statement added, “The Saudi government invited the delegation to undertake this visit after the visit was approved by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The committee is a bipartisan advisory body, independent of the US State Department.

According to the statement, US embassy employees accompanying the delegation attempted to convey Cooper’s “polite but firm refusal,” but site officials escorted the delegation outside after Cooper indicated that “he did not seek any confrontation or provocation, but as an observant Jew he could not comply with the request.”

“No one should be denied access to a heritage site, especially a site meant to highlight unity and progress, just because they are Jewish,” Cooper said.

The committee’s vice-chairman, Reverend Frederick Davey, said in the statement, “The Saudi officials’ request from the committee’s chair was astonishing and painful, and directly contradicts not only the government’s official narrative of change but also the real signs of greater religious freedom in the kingdom that we have observed firsthand.” “.

He added: “While we appreciate the various meetings we have held with officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, the Human Rights Commission and others, this unfortunate incident starkly demonstrates that there is still a lot of work that the Kingdom needs to do to bring it into line with international legal protection that guarantees this right.” “Basic”.

On the other hand, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a statement, “This unfortunate incident was the result of a misunderstanding of internal protocols, and the matter was escalated to senior officials.”

She added, “The (Saudi ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud) had the opportunity to speak with the rabbi, and the matter was resolved, but we respect his decision not to continue the tour, and we look forward to welcoming him again to the Kingdom.”

It is mentioned that the network CNN I contacted the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

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